Thursday, March 27, 2014

More Barrels of Darlington

Several years ago I wrote a post about my affection for barrel-shaped objects.  I'm drawn to them, Dear Reader, and have collected them for as long as I can remember.  I find objects made in the shape of old-fashioned barrels pleasing, both to look at and as sweet reminders of pre-industrial times.

All sorts of barrel-shaped vessels are to be found if one keeps one's eyes open for such things.  Most that I come across date from before the 1950s, when plastic containers became ubiquitous and, well, ruined everything.

We recently came across an assortment of little barrel-shaped vessels for sale at White Whale Limited, one of our favorite antiques shops in Hudson, New York.  Owned and operated by two generations of the Ribar family, White Whale is a required destination of ours in Hudson and a place where we have had great good luck finding wonderful things for Darlington House, ranging from vintage Christmas ornaments to early neoclassical Staffordshire figures.  We rarely come away from a visit to White Whale with nothing in hand.

Among the numerous little barrels for sale we chose the three small ones shown in this post.  Two are made of glazed earthenware and one is made of mixed metals.  The green and yellow barrels stand about three inches tall; the larger metal one is approximately five inches tall.  All three were made to squirrel away coins.  They were fortunate to avoid the fate of many a child's piggy bank: smashed to shards to cash in the treasure within.  I believe our little barrels date from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century.

Aren't they charming?

White Whale Limited
410 Warren Street
Hudson, New York 12534
Monday - Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
T: (518) 755-6441

Photographs by Boy Fenwick


  1. When I visited Colonial Williamsburg last year with my daughter's school group, one of the most interesting craftsmen we saw was the cooper. He discussed the making of barrels as well as their many uses in an eighteenth-century community. I'd never really thought about barrels before his demonstration. Your little examples are delightful!

  2. What wonderful forms and colors these little treasures are. I too adore barrels and have some around my home. There are three graduating wooden barrels in our basement's pantry that belonged to my husband's family. Also, I purchased a tall and narrow wooden barrel that was used to keep nails in from an old hardware store. I got that at their estate sale several years ago. I even managed to somehow find a photograph of the interior of this shop, dating form the early 1900s complete with a row of these same barrels in action.

  3. Hello Reggie, What great details on these barrels--I am especially taken by the lock on the yellow one. In collecting old photos, I have noticed how often barrels make an appearance. Real ones in dockside or country store photos, and sometimes one can spot decorative ones like yours in interior shots.

  4. Very charming Reggie, and yes so fortunate to find these, as I am sure many WERE smashed to bits for the coins!

    Artist William Glackens

  5. Your collection is absolutely charming, Reggie. Very much enjoyed seeing it especially the Christmas ornament. Barbara

  6. your blog is ever a delight and never more so than when your impeccable tastes serve us the honor of a mention. and you have a cute dog, too.

  7. If you were from the south, a different barrel would haunt you.

  8. Oh my goodness, you are a barrel of surprises! I love the simple shape of barrels too. You must be a lover of "Bourbon" too, as it is cured in charred oak barrels. I could see a party in your Barn, outbuilding being just barrels of fun! Your post made me so nostalgic for a candy shaped like a barrel, I believe they were root beer flavor. Now I am on a mission to find them. Charming little barrels. I love your fascinations.

  9. Oh my goodness Reggie
    that first photo took me right back to being a wee girl in Dublin, Ireland at my maternal grandparent's home. They always kept a small barrel almost exactly like the taller brown one, filled with extremely hot Coleman's mustard, on the condiments tray on the dining table. I was endlessly fascinated with this little barrel until one fateful day I took a spoonful of the contents. Forever scarred!! I have never been able to abide even the scent of mustard ever since.
    Thanks (sort of!) for the trip down Memory Lane...


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